META: The problem of "Good vs. Evil"

Martin Phipps martinphipps2 at
Tue Feb 19 16:35:00 PST 2008

On Feb 20, 6:24 am, Andrew Burton <tuglyrai... at> wrote:
> Martin Phipps wrote:
> > Look at it this way.  Suppose, hypothetically, you had a really bad
> > day: your political ambitions weren't going as well as you hoped and,
> > to top it off, you got fired.  Now, suppose you go online and read
> > somebody's story and work out your frustrations by posting a scathing
> > review.  Did you have free will or had your pent up frustration caused
> > you to act that way?  This is a purely hypotheitcal question, by the
> > way. :)
> I wonder if Calvinism is a legitimate legal defense...
> "I plead innocent your honor, I did not kill my wife."
> "Innocent?  But we have eye witnesses and DNA; you signed a confession."
> "All of which is true, but you see, I was under duress, from the first
> of thirty-seven stab wounds to this very sentence.  None of this my doing."
> "I would like to hear this explanation."
> "We are all slaves to the chemical expressions of our bodies, reactions
> that are driven by our senses and experiences.  The day my wife was
> killed, I had been fired from my job, learned my political career was
> destroyed, and slammed my finger in a door.  I was angry, depressed, and
> stressed to the point of breaking...all of which was beyond my scope of
> control."
> "When I arrived home and found my wife in bed with another man, that was
> the final sensory input required to activate the adrenal rush my brain
> required to override my normally conformed psyche."
> "But your confession..."
> "Childhood indoctrination of 'good and evil' combined with my physically
> drained conspired with the small motor functions of my brain to make me
> sign the paper the policemen presented me with, an action on their part
> which was similarly dictated by a set of rules, albeit legan and not
> chemical, beyond their scope."
> "I'm innocent your honor.  It wasn't me who killed my wife, it was
> Predetermination!"

"I see and I understand."


"Yes and, in fact, I can relate to how you feel."


"I too have had a bad day.  The mayor gave me a hard time this
morning: he told me I hadn't been tough enough on crime."


"And, before that, I talked to my son about his report card.  He told
me that school is a lot harder than it was when I was his age and that
I should expect a few Cs and the occasional F."


"So while your argument may be perfectly valid, it is also
unfortunately true that I'm not exactly in the mood to hear it right
now.  You see, my own decision in this case is predetermined as a
result of a combination of the evidence in this case and the sum total
of my own life's experiences.  And given my current state of mind,
what do you think my decision is going to be?"

"Um... acquital?"

"No.  You will be held in state prison until such time as you can be
brought to the electric chair to face execution.  That is all.  Do you
have a problem with that?"


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